Support is the basic job of social media management. In the Philippines, many professional sports teams have been getting very little support, and the same can be said for our past representatives in the international basketball scene.
The last time the Philippines won the FIBA bronze was in 1954. Before that it placed in 5th during the 1936 Summer Olympics where it was defeated only by the unbeatable American team. Decades of losses and suspensions dampened Filipino enthusiasm—and hope.
But when the team rebranded in 2010, Gilas Pilipinas was given a chance to court Filipino pride once again. Though PR had a lot to do with its resurgent popularity, it was social media that gave the continuous support the team needed to thrive.
That Philippine sports need support is an understatement. Many teams languish in obscurity, whether they win medals or not. Fans are few, and because they're barely present, sponsorship whether corporate or government is nonexistent.
Gilas sidestepped that fate, not only by having corporate backing in the beginning but also by having corporate fans willing to invest in social media. Despite international losses, basketball in the Philippines remains a huge sporting event. It's just hard to be a fan.
Social media, a very popular channel in the Philippines, made it easy to be a fan by providing:
A Rallying Point
Cheering for international events is difficult. It's not like a PBA game where a fan can leave work early to catch a game, cheer, and celebrate (or commiserate) with the players. Fortunately, social media provides a rallying point in the form of hashtags: #LabanPilipinas, #LabanPuso, and #PusototheMax. By using these hashtags, fans can cheer and be heard.
Unless your entire barkada is a fan, finding conversation about team games can be difficult. Even die-hard fans will find their enthusiasm waning without anyone to share it with. Not with social media. It can bring out the conversation and let fans celebrate with one another, or help each other out in getting over their frustrations.
What's better than discovering and conversing with fellow Gilas fans? Getting a response from the Gilas players themselves. Social networks offer a venue where heroes can connect with their admirers. They enable the players to find the motivation to win—and the fans to keep the fire burning in their hearts.
In the Philippines and wherever the Filipinos are, outpourings of support came with every Gilas game as the hashtags trended on Twitter. Filipino fans came together to cheer or cry. Though Gilas has lost games, it has nevertheless won the hearts of its fans.
It's not surprising that FIBA has given the Philippines the Most Valuable Fan (MVF) Best Country Award.
Creating a similar outpouring of support for a brand is a challenge for a digital agency in the Philippines. But the M2Social team has ideas. Send us a message! And if you want to receive our articles fast, subscribe to our blog.